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Mazari writes to OHCHR on use of cluster munitions

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Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen M Mazari wrote a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet today on Indian use of cluster munitions across LoC and Indian forces violence against Kashmiris in Held Kashmir.
In her letter, she drew the attention of the UN High Commissioner to the use of cluster bombs by India, targeting civilians in Neelum Valley, saying that it is in violation of norms of customary international law as well its international treaty obligations.
Dr Mazari said it is essential that the Human Rights Council should establish a Commission of Inquiry on Kashmir to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into human rights violations.
She urged OHCHR to immediately take note and act on the new Indian government’s policy of increasing the military action against Kashmiris in held Kashmir.
“A four-year old boy was one of the four reported casualties of the attack, while at least eleven others were injured. Pakistan and India are both States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects, without any reservations,” she said.
She added: “From the very design of cluster bombs, it is clear that these weapons are intended to be used against broader military targets. Clearly, cluster munitions, by their very nature, are indiscriminate. By not only using the weapons, which are indiscriminate in themselves, but also using them specifically against the civilian population in Neelum Valley, the Government of India is actively violating norms of customary international law as well its international treaty obligations.”
“There is the additional negative impact of those cluster submunitions that do not explode on impact. As reported by the Cluster Munition Monitor in 2017, from the 1990s, out of 21,200 cluster munition casualties, 17,291 of the casualties resulted from unexploded submunitions. The after-effects of this strike thus raise several concerns for the international community with respect to India regarding its commitments under International Humanitarian Law IHL).
This fresh wave of violations of IHL by India come a little over a year since the OHCHR’s “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir”, published on 14 June 2018 (2018 Report), and not even a month after the publication of the “Update of the Situation of Human Rights… from May 2018 to April 2019″ (follow-up Report).
The timing of this strike is thus of even greater concern as it reflects India’s appalling lack of seriousness to respect human rights as well as humanitarian law and India’s own international treaty obligations, in its relationship/dealings with the Kashmiri people. In the 2018 Report, your office highlighted the indiscriminate impact of pellet guns being used in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, as well as continuing impunity for perpetrators of this indiscriminate violence.
These issues, among others, specifically relating to the indiscriminate use of weapons, have been highlighted again in the follow-up Report. Unfortunately, instead of redressing these violations of IHL, the State of India has chosen to perpetrate further violations of humanitarian law.
It is in light of these violations of IHL, that I request the OHCHR remind India of its obligations under humanitarian law, specifically of the duty to protect civilians and, to this end, distinguish between the civilian population and civilian objects, on one hand, and combatants and military objectives on the other. There is ample evidence to suggest that the use of cluster bombs in most situations has been deemed to be indiscriminate, thereby failing to satisfy the requirement of proportionality.
As per the recommendations contained in paragraph 183 of the follow-up Report, it is essential that the Human Rights Council establish a Commission of Inquiry on Kashmir, tasked with conducting a comprehensive independent international investigation into human rights violations in the area. Without the establishment of such a Commission, human rights abuses in Kashmir will continue to go on unchecked, prolonging the suffering and oppression of the Kashmiri people.
Meanwhile, I request your Office to immediately take note and act on the new Indian government’s policy of increasing the military action against Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir. With Warm Regards,” Dr Shireen M Mazari concludes. – NNI